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Good Jobs for All Coalition Supports Protests Against EI Changes

‘Good Jobs for All Coalition’ Supports Protests Against EI Changes
April 25, 2013

(Toronto) This Saturday, April 27 thousands of workers and supporters are taking to the streets of Montreal to demand the Harper government withdraw its recent changes to Employment Insurance. Similarly, protesters in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia among others are calling on Ottawa to “Scrap the EI Changes.”

Inspired by these actions, the Toronto-based Good Jobs For All Coalition has announced the launch of its own campaign in the Greater Toronto area. “The impact of the EI changes will be felt right across Canada in many sectors and in big cities as well as rural areas. It’s not just an issue for Quebec and Atlantic provinces. These changes will be acutely felt here in the GTA too,” Coalition co-chair Tam Goossen said.

The Good Jobs Coalition which represents more than 30 community and labour organizations in the Greater Toronto Area has also sent a message of solidarity to the demonstrations in Montreal and Edmundston, New Brunswick. The Coalition identifies the attack on workers’ EI rights as “part of a cheap labour agenda creeping like a cancer into the fabric of our society” including the government’s new anti-union legislation and green light to lower wages for Temporary Foreign Workers.

The message ends with support for future actions “that convey a strong and united message to Scrap Harper’s EI Changes. And Fix EI.”

A petition on the Coalition’s website calls for:
• Better access to EI especially for those in precarious jobs. This would require an overhaul of the EI Hours system with a new qualifying minimum of 360 hours;
• Improved benefit rates;
• Extended benefit weeks to provide continued income benefits for workers in approved training programs, among others.

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For more information contact these Good Jobs For All Coalition representatives:
Judy Persad, organizer 416-441-3663 x 224
Winnie Ng Social Justice Chair, Ryerson University 647-291-3511
Laurell Ritchie, labour EI specialist 416-917-0047
For EI petition and backgrounders, please visit: goodjobsforall.ca/fix-employment-insurance

EI cuts are another blow to the jobless

By: Carol Goar Canada, Published on Wed Apr 10 2013

Just when it seemed safe to put Jim Flaherty’s surprise-loaded 2012 budget behind us, it delivered a nasty aftershock.

Labour activists knew it was coming, but most Canadians didn’t. Buried in last spring’s 425-page omnibus budget legislation was a change in employment insurance (EI) rules that will hurt thousands of laid-off workers. It took effect on April 7.

Unions and community groups pleaded with the government not to implement the measure. They failed. So last Sunday, employment insurance benefits in two-thirds of the country were quietly reduced. Existing recipients were spared but new EI claimants — starting with the 54,500 workers who lost their jobs in March — will be subject to tougher rules. Most will get less support.

Generalizations are impossible. The impact on any person depends on his or her employment record, skills and the health of the local job market. But by and large, EI applicants in Oshawa, Windsor, Hamilton, the Niagara region, Sudbury, Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver will fare worse under the new rules. (The effect in Toronto will minimal because EI claimants here never received the same benefits as their counterparts in the rest of the country.)

Full article: www.thestar.com

CCPA Report: Living Wage as a Human Right

Systemic marginalization creates barriers to a living wage for many workers in Canada. In particular, women workers, and those who are racialized, immigrant, Aboriginal, living with disabilities or similarly disadvantaged are all segregated into low wage job ghettoes—their work systemically devalued. A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues that governments and employers need to deliver more equitable compensation incomes for vulnerable workers. The report states that the right to work and earn a living wage free of discrimination is a basic human right.

Toronto police station cleaners make poverty wage

Toronto police station cleaners make “poverty wage,” critic says

Paul Moloney – Toronto Star

Contract cleaners hired to look after Toronto police stations are being paid roughly minimum wage, contrary to previous reports that pegged average wages at more than $17 an hour.

Councillors on the government management committee were told Tuesday that heavy duty cleaners make $12.27 an hour including vacation pay, and light duty cleaners earn $10.59 hourly.

In Ontario, the general minimum wage is $10.25 an hour.

Under budget pressure, the police service in early 2011 proposed looking at contracting out cleaning. At that time, the staff briefing note on the subject said contract cleaning rates average $17.60 an hour.

The committee members were urged to vote against awarding a two-year contract extension worth $3.9 million to Impact Cleaning Services to service 25 police facilities.

“These are poverty wage jobs, that’s the bottom line,” said Preethy Sivakumar, coordinator of the Good Jobs For All Coalition, representing labour and community groups.

Full article:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1258480

Community Forum in Scarborough tomorrow – Rights & Dignity at Work

Rights and Dignity at Work — forum in Scarborough

The Rights & Dignity at Work campaign is holding a forum on Wednesday, September 26 in Scarborough.

Location: The Hub, 2660 Eglinton Avenue East

Time: 6 – 8 pm

Good Jobs are vital to strong, healthy communities. However, the reality is that more and more of us are being left behind — we are precariously employed or underemployed, and are being told we are “lucky” to have a job if we try to speak up at work. But we are not the problem. The problem is the economic race to the bottom which forces workers to give up more and more. The only thing that can help is having communities on our side when we ask for the government to fix the laws to help us have a voice at work.

Click (goodjobsforall.ca/rights-dignity-at-work) for more information on the campaign. Keep checking our Calendar for upcoming forums in your area. Contact info@goodjobsforall.ca for more information

Abuse of migrant workers ‘endemic’ in Canada

Abuse of migrant workers ‘endemic’ in Canada, new study says

Nicholas Keung – Toronto Star

The moment Liliane arrived in Toronto from Uganda as a live-in caregiver, her boss seized her work permit and passport. For two years of work, she was only paid a total of $2,100.

Senthil Thevar was promised $15 an hour by a recruiter in India to work as a chef in a Toronto restaurant. Instead, he only earned $8 hourly, sharing accommodation in a cold basement, with no vacation and holidays.

On paper, Tanzanian taxidermist Juma was supposed to make $16.08 an hour to make animal specimens in Canada. His boss wrote him a $3,168 paycheque each month, but Juma must immediately withdraw the money and pay it back as “my taxes.”

It might seem these migrant workers just happened to be struck by bad luck — and unscrupulous employers. But a new report released Monday by the Metcalf Foundation says Canada’s current immigration and labour laws virtually doom temporary migrant workers to mistreatment.

“The exploitation is not isolated and anecdotal. It is endemic. It is systemic,” the report says.

“The depths of the violations are degrading. There is a deepening concern that Canada’s temporary labour migration programs are entrenching and normalizing a low-wage, low-rights ‘guest’ workforce.”

Migrant workers in Canada have tripled in the past decade, to 300,111 in 2011 — about one-third of them in low-skilled jobs, according to the report titled “Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity.”

While stories of migrant worker abuse are not new, the study by Osgoode Hall Law School professor Fay Faraday examined the legislative and regulatory practices to get to the root causes of the issues faced by migrant workers like Liliane and Juma, who are profiled but not fully identified in the report. Thevar, who was also profiled in the report, has spoken to the Star previously and has agreed to be identified by his last name.

“This is the road map for understanding how these workers’ insecurity is built by law. The law doesn’t only create vulnerability but it fails to address exploitation and allows it to flourish,” said Faraday, who specializes in constitutional law, human rights and labour issues.

Canada has several programs to bring in low-skilled temporary migrant workers: live-in caregivers, seasonal farm workers and a 10-year-old pilot project that lets in workers in diverse sectors such as agriculture, restaurants, food processing, cleaning, construction, road building and tourism.

Full article:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1257536

Why Canada must get rid of its ‘bad jobs’

Why Canada must get rid of its ‘bad jobs’

Armine Yalnizyan

Last May federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said there was no such thing as a bad job. The Law Commission of Ontario may disagree.

This week it put out a report about the rise in vulnerable workers and precarious jobs. Now that he’s heard from executives who think Canadians are paid too much, Mr. Flaherty should consider the other side of the story, and the suggested fix.

Most of us rely on our jobs as our main form of economic security, but gradually the market has been shifting away from jobs offering reliable incomes and benefits.

More than 1 in 5 jobs in Ontario (22 per cent) are defined as “precarious” today. Precarious jobs combine low rates of pay with part-time or highly variable hours of work, and no benefits or pensions. If you’re a woman, a visible minority, or a recent immigrant, there’s considerably more than a one-in-five chance that a precarious job is waiting for you.

Since the recession, four out of five jobs added to the job market in Canada have been temporary or contract work (see attached graph). Add to that a new federal policy thrust that has dramatically increased temporary foreign work permits for migrant workers, particularly in low skilled job categories. Sadly, some employers have been exploiting the fact that many workers find themselves in no position to complain.

Full article:
www.theglobeandmail.com

Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

MEDIA RELEASE June 28, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Harper’s “Cheap Labour” Agenda: Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

TORONTO, ON—Drastic changes have been made to Employment Insurance (EI) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In particular, unemployed workers and migrant workers will be forced into lower wages. These aggressive measures are part of an ongoing “cheap labour” agenda from the Harper government – a race to the bottom where workers continue to be squeezed more and more.

“The economic crisis has left working people more vulnerable than ever and these changes will make things worse,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All labour-community coalition.

The coalition has launched a new campaign to fight these regressive measures. “We want
Parliament to fix EI by improving eligibility and increasing duration of benefits, and stop letting employers get away with taking advantage of migrant workers,” said Ng.

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